Casablanca Classic Film Scores for Humphrey Bogart/Gerhardt

March 8, 2011

 

In the 70’s when Gerhardt first released his classic film series he offered material by composer or actor/actress. Casablanca is all about the films of Humphrey Bogart one of the greater actors of all time. While it can be argued that Max Steiner wrote for some of his greatest films Victor Young, Franz Waxman and others also made worthy contributions. Regardless of the composer this remastering and release of the material is a welcome addition not only to soundtrack enthusiasts but to any old movie buff, pop enthusiast, Bogart fan, and people who just like symphonic music.

 

Gerhardt created memorable suites for the majority of the work you’ll hear on this CD or download. After the Warner Brothers fanfare your lead right into Casablanca with music which immediately sets the mood of Morocco, French and German involvement, and the love theme “As Time Goes By” (not written by Steiner) in the first three minutes of the suite. If you had never seen the film the story is revealed to you. Max was a master in this respect as he came from the Wagner/Strauss storytelling school. Again you almost immediately hear the war, French, and love interest in the first minute or so of the track “Rescue at Sea” from Passage to Marseille. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre suite is yet another example of his story telling ability. Within seconds you realize it is an action adventure that takes place somewhere south of the US border. When you hear the cue “The Trek to the Gold” you feel like you’re a burro swinging and swaying up the trail. Huston, the director, spared little expense giving Max the budget for a full size orchestra which Steiner took full advantage of. The strings tell the whole story in the lush romantic theme from The Big Sleep; brass is featured in the military march of The Caine Mutiny a theme and orchestration that would have made Sousa proud. It oozes armed forces. Again Virginia City is instantly recognizable as western material with yet another love theme, something Steiner was so good at writing. Key Largo, a drama, concludes the Steiner composition’s on this set with his danger motif as well as the telling of a tragic tale.

 

Waxman’s composing came through loud and clear in To Have and Have Not and The Two Mrs. Carrolls Suite. He has a brash almost dissonant style part of the time as well as melodic which makes his scores easy to recognize. Both of these films were done in the 40’s when Bogart was the good guy and his wife Lauren Bacall appeared with him in some of his films. The soft delicate love theme of Victor Young’s The Left Hand of God is performed to perfection by the National Philharmonic Orchestra. To this day after having heard it hundreds of time it brings a tear to my eye. Within a few bars you hear the epic sound of Rozsa, proud and majestic in Sahara. Hollander’s Sabrina, a love story, rounds out the selection of material. Gerhardt, given the opportunity could easily have done volume two of Bogart material. The 50 minutes fly by as you’re captivated from the very beginning. As you listen to the suite you can then decide which selections you might want to have the entire soundtrack of.

 

Also not to be overlooked are the Rudy Behlmer notes which are quite informative and digestible good reading. The sound is bright, crisp and well defined with an occasional blip in the remastering. Remember that this is analog material and some of the best work that RCA did but it isn’t perfect and I’m sure that time wasn’t kind to the tapes so don’t expect perfect digital sound where there is a distinct separation of instruments and perfection. Having said that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Highly recommended.

 

Track listing

 

1. Casablanca (Max Steiner) (08:36)

Main Title; The Immigrants; Morocco; “Sam, I thought I told you never to play…”, As Time Goes By; Flashback; Rick Remembers Paris; Love Scene; The Airport; Major Strasser’s Death; “… the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

2. Passage to Marseille (Max Steiner) (03:55)

Rescue at Sea

3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Max Steiner) (07:46)

Main Title; The Trek to the Gold; Fool’s Gold; The Letter; Finale: The Gold Scatters in the Wind

4. The Big Sleep (Max Steiner) (02:41)

Love Themes

5. The Caine Mutiny (Max Steiner) (02:33)

March

6. To Have and Have Not (Franz Waxman) (01:43)

Main Title: Martinique

7. The Two Mrs. Carrolls (Franz Waxman) (04:26)

Main Title; The Embrace; The Storm; The Poisoned Milk; The Window; Geoffrey’s Madness; Finale

8. Sabrina (Frederick Hollander) (02:53)

Main Title; The Larrabee Estate

9. The Left Hand of God (Victor Young) (02:37)

Love Theme

10. Sahara (Miklos Rozsa) (02:36)

Main Title

11. Virginia City (Max Steiner) (04:15)

Stagecoach; Love Scene

12. Key Largo (Max Steiner) (05:12)

Main Title; The Bridge; McCloud and Mrs. Temple; Reminiscence; Morning; Finale

 

Total Duration: 00:49:13

 

 

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